English Premier League teams Liverpool and Chelsea FC have cut their sponsorship ties with 1xBet, a Russian-owned gambling company that just had its license suspended in the UK.
The two clubs were both sent letters from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) over their respective links to 1xBet. The commission then advised that both clubs faced the prospect of being prosecuted for unlawful advertising under the Gambling Act.
This meant that any logos or promotions either club showed would be classed as a breach and could result in a massive fine. Since the firm was suspended, all mentions of their relationship have been taken away from both clubs’ websites.
The development comes a week after soccer club Tottenham Hotspur also severed its partnership agreement with the beleaguered Russian firm.
1xBet was exposed by a British newspaper, which discovered that the company was promoting on websites that were actually banned by the UKGC. Sites included ones that displayed pornography and promoting wagers on cockfighting and children’s sports.
The Cyprus-based gambling company is now collaborating with the UK regulator to have its license reinstated. It reiterates that it did not know about the illegal advertising and is already taking measures to resolve the issue at hand. The operator has also provisionally stopped all advertising in the UK.
Meanwhile, the English soccer leagues have found themselves under fire for the volume of relationships that clubs have with gambling operators. In the English Football League Championship alone, 17 out of the 24 clubs are backed by betting companies.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has long batted for a crackdown on advertisements in the soccer industry. He has urged England’s Football Association (FA) to prohibit all use of players and managers in gambling averts.
In view of the distressing levels of gambling addiction in the UK, Watson said, “It’s time to make rules about gambling adverts and sponsorships much tighter.”
1xBet is not only in trouble in the UK but is also facing scrutiny in Kenya earlier this year after the government bashed gambling firms for being responsible for an epidemic in youth gambling.
Despite the ban, the firm was still using large billboard adverts in Kenya that highlighted players such as England captain and Tottenham Hotspur player Harry Kane in July. Players in the UK are prohibited by the FA from having deals with gambling companies.
This actually is not the first time that 1xBet has been in hot water involving the Premier League. It was given a cease-and-desist order in December 2017 for unlawfully streaming Premier League games online.